Art Teachers

Sara McWilliams

4-12 Drama

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Sara grew up in Youngstown, Ohio where the seasons are harsh and the folks are down-to-earth. As a child, I was an actor, a teacher, a violin and ukulele player, and a crafter. Guess what? I’m still an actor, a teacher, a violin (and now ukulele) player and crafter. I’m one of the rare and lucky few who got to be what they wanted to be when they grew up.  I have officially been teaching for over a decade and it feels good down to my toes: I’m constantly in awe of young children and feel the privilege and responsibility of working together each day. I attended Kent State University where I obtained a bachelor’s and promptly headed off to Los Angeles, CA. There I taught preschool, studied early childhood education, refined my jewelry-making skills, and got my second bachelor’s in “life on my own”. Thankfully, I passed. I married my college sweetheart, we moved to Portland, adopted two amazing dogs, and lived happily ever after. When not being enlightened by preschoolers, I can be found studying metal arts, performing with Playback Theater, (shameless plug: doing amazing work in the field of drama therapy, and trying not to let the Steelers drive me batty.


Heidi Nelms

PreK-5 Music

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I was born in East Los Angeles California where I spent my days, running after the perennial ice cream trucks, cruising around the block with my friends on bikes, eating my grandmother’s delicious Mexican food and playing ball in the street until the moon and the coyotes came out.

I have always loved music and remember how I used to force my family to watch and listen to me as I took center stage in the kitchen, singing my favorite radio songs while “ice skating” in socks on the linoleum. Several choirs and school talent shows later, I learned to play the bass guitar, then some drums, guitar, random wind instruments, a bit of piano and ukelele and have been performing with bands ever since I was twenty.

After graduating from Cal State Long Beach, I moved to Maui, HI and I began working with children as a teacher in the public schools and then at a family social services agency, eventually combining my love of music with my love of children. Working one on one with children with Autism for years, I quickly noticed that of all of the methods and approaches I had learned and been practicing,  music was the most natural and powerful communication I was able to have with these children.  We danced, sang, drummed, chanted and connected.
That was it for me.  I knew I wanted to do music with children from that point on.

In 2007 I moved with my husband and son from Maui to Portland to forage for mushrooms and sit under the cherry blossom trees and I feel so lucky to be able to share in music making with the students at Trillium for the past eight years.

I believe that all humans are born musical and that as adults, we need to nurture the children’s musical muscle as much as possible.  Aside from creating new neural pathways in our brains and supporting development of healthy social, learning and academic skills, music instills a strong sense of compassion, creativity, connectedness, confidence and joy in our children.  The students of Trillium demonstrate these traits all the time!


Jessica Fetko

K-12 Art

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Born in the cold sparkles of a snowstorm in Cleveland, Ohio, I’ve always relished the beauty around me. My mother was the first artist who inspired me, drawing her endless, graceful “doodles’ while on the phone and claiming she was “not an artist”. To this day, those words mean little to me, as I truly believe we are all artists, many of us just waiting to come out of our shells. Creating art brings us so much joy and helps us express and release what words cannot. I make art for the joy and satisfaction of the experience, but most of what I love is sharing that with young people. Over the years, I’ve created mainly in a few different art media. I was obsessed with fabric (all the textures and colors!) and clothing for years, creating wall­hangings and making and altering clothing, almost with all re­used materials. For years, I’ve focused on watercolor and water media, a creative exploration I love sharing with my students. It is my hope that we will create a haven for creative expression where students can take a break from academics that is engaging, satisfying, and therapeutic. Along the way, the students will expand their creative minds and feel the satisfaction of making for it’s own sake. They will learn about the role of art in their world and their role in the art world. I’m so grateful to be a part of the Trillium community and look forward to knowing you all